The writing bug is there, just hibernating I think.
For the first time since I can remember, my tank is on empty and I need to take some time to exhale. My 30 in 30 idea had valiant intent, but I never want to feel as though I’m just writing slop to hit a post count.
I’m taking the weekend to reflect, to recharge, and to hopefully stir within me what used to bubble at the surface in some unbridled mission to escape. Right now, I think if I put things into words it’d just frighten people needlessly.
With that, here’s 10 events that helped shape me. Events and life experiences that could probably comprise a book in and of themselves. Or at least a really long kickass blog series.
As a lifelong entrepreneur and eternal optimist, I’ve never followed that chiseled normal path that carries you from childhood to college to career to retirement. Sometimes I wish I had, but then my daughter sits down next to me, pulls my arm around her, and falls asleep nestled next to me while I work. And I’m reminded why I can never leave the financially nomadic life of a freelancer.
I’ve never discussed this publicly but I get asked a lot why I work from home…why I don’t work for a company…and why I do what I do. In fact, few even know what the heck I do for a living. Sometimes I wonder myself.
I think self reflection is important. Even if the whole world has the opportunity to read it.
1. I started a computer business when I was 16 and named it “Computer Mercantile” after a quaint little seashell shop in Cape Cod. Well, at least the “Mercantile” part. They had nothing to do with computers, just seashells and kites. I bought parts from vendors out of Computer Shopper Magazine and assembled them from scratch in my bedroom. A system with 640Kb RAM and a 20MB hard drive cost me $900 to build and I sold at least one a week for $1200. Earning $300 a week back in those days equates to roughly $180,000 in today’s dollars. At least, it felt that way being 16.
One day, in an attempt to drum up some business, I hung some posters up outside Radio Shack. Figuring that’s where my target audience shopped, I waited for the phone to ring. Which it did. Unfortunately, my one and only call was from an attorney threatening to kill me. At least, it felt that way being 16. Man, that phone call scared me to death.
2. I started a nutritional retail business as a Freshman in college, pimpin’ out some nasty pulp-laden vitamin drink from my dorm room. At 18, I made roughly $300 a month. In 1990, at age 19, I earned roughly $8,000 a month. From ages 20-22, I averaged $18,000 a month. In income, not sales. It was too much money at too young an age.
I left college as a Junior because I thought I already knew everything.
3. Eager to pursue other avenues, I flew to Los Angeles and ultimately sold my business to Tiffany, the 80s pop star, for $250,000. She was quite nice and I enjoyed several dinners and evenings out with her and her new husband (who is an ex now) and their infant son. Shortly after turning over my business, checks bounced, I pursued, and I received notice that she was declaring bankruptcy.
4. The bankruptcy trustee retained the business as part of the estate and let it die because she ruled that it “had no value if no one works it”. My income was gone. Business? Gone. Spirit? Broken. I had lost everything. I sued the attorneys who handled the sale for failing to do promised due diligence on her finances. They had no malpractice insurance and after several thousand dollars in legal fees pursuing their negligence, their firm declared bankruptcy. I now had less than nothing.
5. I went back to college to complete my degree at the age of 24. Less than a year earlier I had lived in a nicely appointed 5-bedroom home with three cars. Now I was off to college and renting a bedroom with everything I had left…clothes, a dresser, and a bed. I used public transit and endured two 3-hour Greyhound trips weekly until I finally purchased an absolute rat of a vehicle with five hundred preciously saved dollars.
6. I met my wife Heather when I had nothing to offer aside from myself. I haven’t a clue what she was attracted to but she’s living proof that the soul mate phenomenon is real.
7. My first job upon graduation paid $42,000 a year marketing webbing straps. Two years prior, I would make that in three months working three hours a day. Drowning at a desk, I left a few months later to start my own freelancing and marketing business. We had nothing, not even clients, but Heather supported my decision. I’ve never looked back. And still to this day, I work from home, for myself. We’re not rich, we’re happy, and I’ll take the latter any day of the week.
8. I eventually conceptualized, built, and designed Womb to Bloom, a pregnancy website with a wide range of features and exclusives. With the help of investors, the plans were massive, and it eventually became too much site for one man to manage. With rampant coding issues making my beloved Showcases dormant, it hit hard. Really hard. It’s a potential gold mine, it truly is, but pursuing technology like this doesn’t come cheap or easy. It’s still my crown jewel, I just have to make the difficult decisions on scaling it back so it can move forward. It’s hard to watch your baby sputter so close to the finish line.
9. To aggressively pursue my design and marketing business I started Engine1Media.com (blog design, site design, print media, seo, etc.). My plan was to have my site completed before Christmas. It’s now mid-April and I still have little more than a splash page. I’m so busy doing work for everyone else that I haven’t had time to complete my own site. And you know what? I love it. I love that my reputation and previous work has led to a jammed schedule. But it would be really cool to be able to show off the dozens of sites I’ve designed in that timeframe.
10. I still struggle. It’s been years and I’m still dealing with the emotional fallout from losing it all. Although it did lead me to Heather and for that I’m eternally grateful. It’s been a long and arduous road of personal and fiscal recovery but I feel somewhat vindicated that I didn’t take the recommended easy way out with Chapter 7. I could have, and for some, it’s the only way to salvation, but I never felt quite ready to give up. As silly as it sounds, that decision carries me.
Well, there you have it. A totally random and unfunny blurt. A verbal purge that will hopefully knock whatever wrench is lodged in my cogs. I have no idea why I wrote it, it kinda just wrote itself, but I already feel that it’s been somewhat cathartic.
I’m sure part of my mood stems from a string of “one step forward, two steps back” experiences lately, but I also know some of it is just plain ol’ stress. And it’s hard to find that funny bone when you feel mired in it.
Anyhow, it’s all good. I have no plans to climb on a ledge or bungee jump without a cord. I just need a few days to prioritize, reorganize, and internalize. I thank you all for visiting, for your kind emails, and for keeping me in your web readers. No doubt there are a zillion blog destinations out there, and I’m truly honored that you make mine one of them.